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Court Permits Marijuana in New York Workers’ Comp

On 2/25/21, the Appellate Division, Third Department decided Quigley v. Village of East Aurora. This case affirms authorization and use of medical marijuana for treatment of injuries in the New York Workers’ Compensation system. This is the first time a New York appellate court has squarely addressed the question of whether authorization and use of medical marijuana is allowable in New York's Workers’ Compensation system. The court held that Federal law classifying marijuana as a Schedule 1 controlled substance does not inherently preempt New York State legislation regarding the prescription and use of medical marijuana. It also held that reimbursing a claimant for out-of-pocket costs associated with purchasing medical marijuana legally prescribed under New York State law is unlikely to be considered aiding or abetting Federal controlled substance crimes. Furthermore, the Court ruled that authorization and use of medical marijuana in the New York Workers’ Compensation system does not conflict with other New York State legislative provisions outside the Workers' Compensation Law stating that insurance carriers are not responsible for payment for medical marijuana. The Court distinguished those other legislative provisions outside the Workers Compensation Law, because Section 13 of the Workers' Compensation Law explicitly states that workers' compensation insurance carriers are liable for essentially all forms of causally related medical treatment arising from a compensable injury.

At this time, it is unknown if the appellant in Quigley will be seeking leave to appeal to New York’s highest appellate court, the New York Court of Appeals.

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